A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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“Facebook is like jail” (joke) (11/22)
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Entry from July 11, 2004
Thoity Thoid and Thoid (33rd Street and Third Avenue)
"Thoity Thoid and Thoid" (33rd Street and Third Avenue) is a quintessential example of "New Yorkese," but the phrase has not been historically recorded.

This is from page 70 of New York, Songs of the City (1999),
by Nancy Groce:

Songs written during the East Side's seedier past include several that emphasize the neighborhood's distinctive accent and irreverent attitude towards the outside world. Songwriters thought the pronunciation of "th" as "d" and the wholesale slaughtering of vowels were particularly amusing, so we have songs such as Ben Ryan's 1926 "Down on Thoity Thoid and Thoid":

Down on the East side, on the East side that's my home, sweet home.
Some people think it's the home of black eyes.
Just because guys don't wear collars and ties.
That's all the bunk, they just say that in fun.
Real East side folks is the best what come.
They'd give you their shoit only they ain't got none.
Down on Thoity Thoid and Thoid.

The very same corner received musical attention again in the 1946 novelty song, "Moitle From Toity Toid and Toid" by Bobby Gregory -- the same composer who was responsible for the memorably titled "I've Been Out With the Glue Maker's Daughter":

I've got a goil on de East Side.
Where goils are tough as can be.
She took a job as a bouncer.
And now she's bouncing me.
CHORUS: Who is de toughest goil in dis whole woild.
Moitle from Toidy Toid and Toid.
Who's got buck teeth that shine like a poil.
Moitle from Toity Toid and Toid.
She wears a tight skoit right up to her knees.
Instead of poifume she wears Limboiger cheese.
Who leaves me limp when she gives me a squeeze?
Moitle from Toidy Toid and Toid.

That's very good, but I'll do better. This headline is from the New York Tribune, 8 January 1915, part III, pg. 18:

"THOITY-THOID" STREET'S GIRLS DISSECTED
Vivid and Realistic Is the Recital of the Findings of Three Social
Workers Who "Beat It" with "The Gopherettes" and Other
Tough Daughters of the Poorest Poor in Hell's Kitchen


In the Brooklyn Eagle, 19 June 1944, pg. 10, col. 1, is a photo of two soldiers with a "THOITY THOID ST." sign and this caption:

GOTHAM IN THE MARSHALLS -- Corp. Thomas J. Augusto, 25, left, of 1827 Norman St., strikes a match on his signpost, while his buddy, Pfc. Angelo C. Accetta, 31, of 3234 Irwin Ave., the Bronx, waits for a light. The sign indicates one of Augusto's favorite New York haunts.

I was looking for something else ("getting your act together") when I found this in Jack Cortez' Fabulous Las Vegas Magazine, 29 February 1964, pg.
27 (continued on pg. 31):

One of New York's most consistent restaurant attractions is Majors Cabin. (...) The location of the Cabin is often referred to as being 33 steps west of the Empire State Building. Specifically that means 33 West 33rd St., that choice real estate area with proximity to Macy's, Gimbel's and the Sheraton-Atlantic. As one cab driver in pure 1920 New Yorkese once eloquently said it: "Tirdy Tree West Tirdy Tird," or was it "Thoidy Thoid" that he said.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityStreets • (1) Comments • Sunday, July 11, 2004 • Permalink


Hi, Barry.

Just a note to let you know there’s a misquotation in your article about “Thoity Thoid and Thoid” (7/4/2004). The Bobby Gregory lyric has “tight skoit,” not “tight shoit.”

Pat

Posted by Pat O'Conner  on  05/07  at  12:00 PM

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